Elvis reports: “Elvis was having breakfast today and flipping through the Fleet Farm catalog that had showed up. He reflected on the genius of selling products to us that are contrary in purpose to each other.
“In one section of the catalog, there were several pages devoted to products for your feed lot to attract deer: lots of seeds, fertilizers, and attractants developed and sold to get deer to show up and eat what you plant, and then hang around so they can get shot this fall.
“When Elvis visits a store in a few weeks, he will shop the rows of plants and shrubs marketed as deer-resistant, hoping deer won’t eat what a gardener may try to grow. And going a step further, there are shelves in the store devoted to deer-repellent sprays, nets, and fencing sold to keep deer away.
“Elvis is sure there are other examples out there of things found in the same store, with contradictory purposes.”
The vision thing
Friendly Bob of Fridley writes: “Subject: Creative seeing.
“I was recently paging through my emails, and one that was not unusual was an ad from Hewlett-Packard (HP.com). These always make me wonder how often people get new/replacement computers. I am pretty loyal to what I have. (The last two were machines I assembled myself, so I suppose there is some attachment there as well.) I could stop receiving these email ads and would not miss them, but mostly I am too lazy to unsubscribe.
“As I sort of glanced at the HP email, I wondered when they had gotten into selling animals. I thought the ad said ‘Animal Sale.’ OK, I looked back at it and realized it was ‘Annual Sale.’ I suppose that makes a bit more sense, even though it seems they have sales every week.”
Now & Then
LeoJEOSP writes: “Subject: Where there is smoke . . .
“I did not move to the metro until 1981. The town I grew up in was about 100,000 people.
“In the early 1960s, we burned paper and cardboard in a container next to our alley. Our burn container was a 55-gallon drum that formerly held grease; it was now repurposed and sat close to the alley.
“As the son of a fireworks fan, I would do stupid things because that is what kids do. One fine day, I felt the need to throw an empty can of Aqua Net into the refuse-burning barrel, and the resulting explosion sounded like a double-barrel shotgun going off. There was shrapnel in the side of the burning barrel, and I ran and hid in front of our garage.
“Fall meant burning leaves, and the smoke gave out a very pleasant odor. I do not recall the year burning garbage was outlawed.
“Taking garbage in a garbage can to the curb for pickup was never as fun as burning cardboard and newspaper!”
The highfalutin pleasures
Tia2d reports: “Subject: Approved!
“I took some rings to a jeweler, and we are working on having them recast. Yesterday I went in to finalize the design, and the woman who was working with me shared that they had had a Girl Scout troop come in and, because she was working on my ring, she walked them through the steps with the CAD (Computer Aided Design) and the molding and pictures. She informed me that I am Girl Scout-approved! They liked my ring.”
Joy of Juxtaposition
OTD from NSP: “In the last two books, I have read (‘The Cartographers,’ by Peng Shepherd, and ‘The Darkest Game’ [LAPD Detective Tully Jarsdel Mysteries Book 3], by Joseph Schneider, both with release dates of April 5, 2022), a map with a phantom settlement was a main clue in solving the mystery. A phantom settlement was something I had not known of.
“Per Wikipedia: ‘Phantom settlements, or paper towns, are settlements that appear on maps but do not actually exist. They are either accidents or copyright traps.’
“BTW, both books are worth reading. I would recommend reading the first two Tully Jarsdel books. All four are available as ebooks from MELSA: Twin Cities Metro eLibrary.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
And: Paging Dr. Freud?
Gregory of the North: “Reading the electronic version of the Pioneer Press, I came across this subheadline.
“‘The report covers a vast cross-section of long-term care, from granular details such as the way facilities are designed to foundational issues that would require massive political capital and investment to address. Among them: the authors advocate for creating a new national longterm care system that would exist outside of Medicaid, the program that is at the center of most longterm care financing.’
“Given the context, I assume the writer meant to say ‘WIDE-RANGING STUDY,’ but the error almost strikes me as unconsciously motivated. The article is about the deficiencies of nursing homes. As a person who soon will have to be entering one, the rage element certainly seems understandable.”
Our theater of seasons
Email from Ramblin’ Rose, just before our most recent unwelcome cold snap: “I want to offer my sincere apologies for our wintry weather these past few weeks.
“When I stepped out recently to pick up a package, I realized that our Christmas doormat didn’t come in when the rest of the decorations did. My negligence has confused Mother Nature, annoyed the rest of us, and caused the Twins’ home opener to be postponed.
“On the bright side, as soon as I tucked the offending mat away, the weather forecast called for several days of temps in the 50s.
“You’re welcome; better late than never.
“I think you might agree that these guys are darn cute, though.”
Could be verse!
A quintet of “timericks” from the one and only Tim Torkildson: (1) “Subject: Headline in the Wall Street Journal: ‘Your Office Is Open and the Liquor Is Flowing ‘
“The water cooler is no more / the office is a liquor store / A bloody Mary in the morn / for lunch a snort of barleycorn / Afternoons the boss invokes / meetings full of rum & Cokes / Staff, though happy, tends to snooze / because they guzzle so much booze!
(2) “I retired early cuz I thought I had it made / Inflation, though, has wounded me like some dread ambuscade / I wonder if McDonald’s will want geezers old as me / or should I drive for Uber with my ancient AMC?”
(3) “The price of gasoline, forsooth! / is choking us like cheap vermouth / Nobody wants to pay the freight / in this, our nascent welfare state / Methinks if this continues thus / Detroit becomes superfluous.”
(4) “I do not know just what I think / An algorithm tells me / since it has all my data / and maybe even smells me / Artificial Smarty-Pants / just tell me what to do / where to go and what to buy / and how to barbecue!”
(5) “Believe in peace and make it part / of your life and of your heart / Not as passive people will /sitting back in slothful chill /Work for peace in your own sphere /to be a tranquil pioneer!”
Life (and death) as we know it
Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Imagine Love.
“The death of John Lennon in December 1980 took me back to 1963-64, when I was in eighth grade. In October I lost a grandpa, a gregarious Irish tenor who lived in the Midwest most of his life. His big life adventure was in 1898, when he joined the Illinois Naval Reserve for 3.5 months’ involvement in the Spanish-American War. He served on the USS Harvard during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, and was sent onto the sinking and burning Spanish ship Cristobal Colon to help get Spanish sailors off. It was one of the biggest adventures of his life, and the Spanish ship could have exploded while he was aboard it. Mom gulped when I told her that her beloved Papa could have died before she existed.
“Grandpa was definitely not ‘woke,’ and he only used the banned (for us) N-word in front of us one time. I figure my parents saw something that changed them as they moved around the U.S. with Dad’s Navy job in 1945. But karma caught up with Grandpa; his oldest grandchild married a nice man from Mexico. When I become frustrated with the evils of this world, I remember that I must never, ever tempt karma.
“Anyway, losing Grandpa in 1963 was very hard — though when his beloved JFK was assassinated weeks later in November, we were glad that Grandpa had not lived to see his young Irish idol’s death.
“As eighth grade dragged on, I actively grieved both these deaths. So it was startling when I latched onto the Beatles as they burst on the American scene in early 1964. I, the class nerd, turned goofy. I had fun debating which Beatle I wanted to marry, though I could not decide between John and Paul. Ringo and George were never really in the running, but I couldn’t decide between John and Paul. Paul was the cutest, but I wasn’t sure what we would talk about. John’s skill with words drew me, but I didn’t really ‘get’ some of his seeming craziness back then. A recent TV show documented what John did during the period when he left New York and Yoko Ono to explore other paths — before he went home to Yoko and (eventually) his beloved son Julian. It made me understand how very much of a future we all lost when John died.
“In all, the brightest part of my eighth grade was the Beatles. And when John was killed — just as he was leading us ahead — I felt as if someone had reached back into one of the worst times of my life and ripped out all the joy. I skipped a day of work, to mourn.
“On the Sunday after John’s death, my local radio station was silent for some minutes. Then they played John’s music, ending in the song ‘Imagine.’ It was perfect. Especially the lyrics ‘I hope someday you’ll join us / And the world will be as one.’
“This year so many people are joined together, as I have never seen them in my life, to reject the war in Ukraine. And John’s adored son publicly sang ‘Imagine’ for the first time, to raise money for Ukraine. I feel John’s spirit is still with us, inspiring us toward peace. And, of course, love.”
The Permanent Family Record
Sis writes: “Subject: Brand-new Oldsmobile.
“After the Second World War and countless trips, my father sold the uncomfortable green coupe. The reason: He had been made manager of our small city. With the new moniker came a boost in salary. Now he had the wherewithal to buy his dream car: a cream-colored Oldsmobile with lots of chrome trim. Window frames, door handles, bumpers . . . and, best of all, something new in car culture: a rubberized roof.
“Often in the evenings, Father would be out in the driveway warbling his favorite tune:’Raindrops keep falling on my head . . . errr, roof . . . and sliding off instead,’ as he rubbed the dust specks off the car’s creamy sides.
“The kids in the neighborhood called it a ‘boat’ — slang for ‘beaut.’ Now when
we traveled, we traveled in style — no more tourist rooms upstairs in someone’s home. We stayed at newly erected, semi-glamorous motels.
“Often, waiting in line for the motel clerk’s attention and the room key, I would see a stand with a collection of folders advertising what was to be seen in the area. I picked up a handful to peruse in the motel room in the evening. As I spread them out on the carpeted floor, one stood out. Its headline: ‘An unforgettable experience — join us on a real African safari.’ There followed
pictures of exotic animals: zebras, apes, monkeys, an elephant, male and female lions.
“I read the blurb to my father. ‘It’s nearby, Dad, can we go?’
“My father snorted. ‘Those so-called exotic trips are tourist traps. I’ll bet the hot dogs they sell on the grounds are 10 dollars each!’
“Mother saw my disappointment. She cajoled: ‘We don’t have to eat them. I can pack a lunch. I, for one, would like to see a real live lion.’ Dad was reluctant but in the end backed down: ‘All right, if you bring the lunch.’
“The next morning, bright and early, we were at the safari park. The handsome boss, likely a college student, was dressed appropriately: highly polished brown brogues, beige knee socks, beige shorts and shirt, on his head a pith helmet. He leaned into the car: ‘Welcome to the park, folks. You’re the first visitors today. The park has rules which I’m obliged to recite to you.’ He proceeded: ‘No feeding the animals; stay on marked trails, and do not deviate; drive at a slow pace; one stop for a photo shoot through a rolled-up window only; window and doors locked at all times.’ He added with a smile: ‘The monkeys hereabouts are a naughty crew.’ He continued with the rules: ‘No leaving the vehicle; honk if you’re in difficulty. Oh yes — at the exit there’s a gift shop and a fast-food counter.’ He added: ‘Here the animals roam free while the visitors are in cages.’ I knew he meant cars.
“We started out. The animals seemed lethargic. Perhaps they had just been fed. One needed binoculars to see them.
“At the monkey compound, the apes were swinging from tree to tree. The monkeys scrambled up and down rope ladders. All were chattering. They, at least, were having a good time.
“My younger brother asked: ‘What do monkeys eat, Dad?’
“My father replied irritably: ‘No, no, berries, nuts, I guess!’
“The elephant was a no-show. ‘Probably still in its stall, eating,’ he guessed, then added: ‘Mother, get out your camera, we’re heading for the lion enclave.’
“The mention of food had whetted my appetite. The food box was on the floor of the back seat between my sister and me.
“‘There he is!’ My sister pointed at a big male lion hiding slyly behind a tree. We assumed the rest of the pride were snoozing in the long grass nearby. While everyone else was looking for the lions, I sneaked my hand into the food box and grabbed a tasty cheese and pickle sandwich. I had taken two bites when I heard a sharp rap at my side window. A monkey with a red face with a beige rim around it was pointing at my sandwich, mimicking chewing. I ignored him! He continued leaping up and down, running his long talons around the window frame, then pulling on the door handle. I hid the crust under the puffy gray cushions in the back seat. Racing around to my sister’s side of the car, he pulled on the door handles. My sister, age 12, complained: ‘Dad, a monkey is staring at me.’
“Father looked back and chuckled. ‘I think it’s a marriage proposal, babe. Just say “No.”‘
“We all laughed.
“The laughter enraged the monkey. He skipped to the front of the car, bounded up on the bumper, and ran up the long hood to the windshield. Dad had his head down watching mother roll film into her camera. She usually got it in backwards.
“The monkey rapped on the window. No response! It grabbed the windshield wiper and let it ping against the glass. That did it. Dad looked up. The monkey
kept snapping the wipers. Father shook his fist; the monkey kept snapping away.
“Suddenly, he scampered across the roof to stop above me. Dad rolled down his window and banged on the roof. Shortly after, my sister queried: ‘What’s that sound? It sounds like someone is ripping something.’ I knew immediately. The determined monkey went back to the windshield and looked at my father, upside-down. The monkey was swinging bits of torn rubber fabric.
“My father opened the car door and jumped out. My mother, sister, and I screamed: ‘Close the door, Dad, the lions are looking our way!’ They did more than look. The big male and three females padded out to the road and sat in a row staring at the car. It looked as though they were watching a movie, minus the popcorn.
“Outside the car, my enraged father shouted: ‘I’m going to strangle that son-of-a-bitch.’
“Mother scolded: ‘Father, watch your language. There are kids in the car.’ Dad climbed back in. The monkey sat on the hood, grinning.
“My little brother asked: ‘Is son-of-a—”
“Dad interrupted: ‘Son-of-a-birch, son. I said “son-of-a-birch.” No, it’s not a bad word. It means “pesty annoyance”!’
“Now that he was inside the car, Mother needled: ‘You told me that in grade school, you were the only boy who got to go to the Clean Language Picnic, because you never swore.’
“My brother took it in. ‘Dad, if I said ‘pesty annoyance,’ would I get to go to the Clean Language Picnic?’
“‘Yes! Yes!’ was Dad’s testy reply.
“We didn’t honk. Nevertheless, the safari boss arrived in a jeep, a gun across his knee. At the sight of the jeep, the monkey disappeared. The safari boss shifted the gun to the empty seat beside him. He climbed down from the vehicle and strolled over to the car. He pointed a dictatorial finger down the road. ‘Sorry, sir, the park has rules. I recited them to you this morning. One rule, ‘No getting out of the car,’ has been broken. Please drive at a slow pace to the exit.’
“We were being thrown out of the safari park. For once, my father didn’t argue. The boss stood hands on hips to make sure we obeyed.
“My worry: Where were the monkey and the untended gun? I could see the newspaper headlines now: ‘Safari monkey “offs” tourist family of five!'”
“On our way out, the monkey reappeared, running along the driver’s side of the car. The student at the exit had the wooden gate open. We shot past the gift shop and the fast-food counter.
“I glanced back at the monkey, now on a bench. ‘Dad, the monkey is jumping up and down, slapping his thigh!’
‘“In absolute frustration,’ smirked my father.
“‘It looks like he’s laughing.’
“My father banged the steering wheel with both hands. As he turned left to the main road, Mother sighed: ‘Darn it, I forgot to take a picture of the lions.’
“My little brother had the last word: ‘That monkey was a son-of-a-birch, wasn’t he, Dad?’”
Out of the mouths of babes
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “My daughter has reached the ripe old age of 40.
“She took her almost-7-year-old son on an overnight road trip to a friend’s house near Eau Claire last weekend.
“She and the friend had attended college at UW Eau Claire. (‘If you don’t care, go to Eau Claire. / When in doubt, go to Stout.’)
“She decided that since they were near her old haunts, she would drive through the campus, past her former dorm, and past a couple of rentals where she had lived.
“After hearing some of her stories (and noting that State Street was nearly empty on a Saturday morning), her little son piped up from the back seat: ‘Mom, the college kids probably weren’t even born yet when you were there.’
“Welcome, Beth, to feeling Older Than Dirt!”
Band Name of the Day: Aqua Net Explosion
Website of the Day: MELSA: Twin Cities Metro eLibrary